Opinion: ‘Save Amsterdam Night Before It’s Too Late’

Visitors to the Amsterdam dance event at the Air Club in the center of Amsterdam.  Eva Beliver Statue

Visitors to the Amsterdam dance event at the Air Club in the center of Amsterdam.Eva Beliver Statue

During the first full version of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) since Covid-19, all eyes of the international music world are focused on the dance country Holland, with Amsterdam as a cultural, tolerant and creative host city. However, behind the glossy coat of varnish by Martin Garrix, the sold-out but very expensive Ziggo Dome and even the reopening of De School, there is a lot of creative uncertainty.

Amsterdam Night culture under pressureSuch as The password He also wrote last summer. For years, nightlife has been pushed far beyond the city. A lack of suitable locations, high rents, and onerous licensing processes make it nearly impossible to start new clubs, bars, or exhibition spaces. The nightlife parties, in particular, are the worst and threaten to permanently lose their place in the city, while it is there that new talent can try and flourish. The vibrant, healthy, affordable, varied and abrasive nightlife of Amsterdam is a must-have.


At night, people can move freely – away from social norms – discovering themselves and others. Night offers a playground of possibilities, often specifically for people who are deficient in everyday life. During night fairs, parties or concerts, the most diverse worlds come together: one evening you meet new favorite strangers, you make eternal friendships and love for life is born. Night culture is not necessarily all-encompassing and diverse, but it is a very powerful means of communication, solidarity and inclusion.

In addition, the diverse nightlife is the engine behind the development of art and culture. When different music styles, dance forms, and young makers communicate, true cultural innovation and cross-pollination arise. No one applauding art and culture can sit back and watch the worn edges of the night cut with sharp scissors.

The city council is also aware that Amsterdam’s night culture is in trouble. In June 2021, Chancellor Turia Miliani published night visionThat laid the foundation for municipal policies to protect the night culture. However, the goodwill remains: there is a great contradiction to the reality of the night makers. Bureaucratic rules and major financial risks in temporary projects and landlords who charge very high rents make everyday practice unruly. Temporary venues such as SkatecafĂ©, Garage Noord, Sissi’s and De Schietclub are set to close, without much perspective on potential successors such as The Other Side and Borisov.

mainstream tunes

How we as a city relate to our nightlife culture is no light subject. The creative night sector is often the first to lose in the growing battle between space, resources and money. The neglected status of nightlife is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine and presents a deeper and systemic problem: there is less and less room for everything that does not bring economic gain. Many night makers feel compelled to exchange exciting, special and surprising programming to mainstream rhythms in order to satisfy the demand of the masses. The result is a flat set and not too versatile.

The current college’s party and night vision programming is filled with great words and goodwill: Now is the time to entrench the night into politics. Give clubs a recognized cultural standing, unleash sustainable financial support for young talents and dare to provide a physical space for nightlife. Politicians must realize that today’s nightlife needs support and that it has to be structural. Amsterdam has to ask itself: what kind of city do you want to be? Exchangeable capital obediently coloring within the lines, or do we dare to lead the way in the dance world, spur new talent – thus remaining a progressive free haven?

Amsterdam can’t do without its shattered nightlife culture. So they took action with other Night Citizens and signed the Save the Amsterdam Night petition via degoedezaak.org/nachtisleven.

Sabine Scharwachter, Vincent Hoffmans and Paula Smith, Amsterdam

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